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This October, the third nationally sanctioned Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally will be held in Buffalo. What makes this rally different is not just that it is the last rally before the presidential election, but this time the responsibility of organizing the entire rally was given to a 17-year-old.
With AP classes, work and college applications, the last year of high school can be very stressful, as most seniors know. Rachel Ziarnowski, a senior at Holy Angels Academy, knew that running a rally would make her senior year even more hectic, but she was ready to accept the challenge.
For the majority of the last month you could find her making calls, writing emails and making posters. With an issue that was so important to her, she wanted to make sure that this is going to be the best rally yet. In order to do that, she wanted to make sure that it would connect to people of all faiths and political views.
Especially with the election coming up, Rachel said, “It’s important that we come together, not as Christians, but come together as Americans to stand in the fight for freedoms.”
In order to help explain the issue and appeal to a wide range of Americans, Rachel chose the speakers for the rally carefully. To get a political view, she chose David DiPietro, a pro-life Republican running for Congress. She believes her next pick, Tracy Tremblay, will appeal to many different people because she exemplifies many roles, from stay-at-home mom to business owner. The two religious speakers she chose are Deacon Mike McKeating and the Rev. Bob Heisner.
There’s no handbook on how to run a rally, but Rachel said she got a lot of help and advice from her mom, Louise Ziarnowski, who helped bring Life Chain to the area.
As a teenager running such a large event, she had no idea what kind of an impact she would have.
“A woman whom I’d never met came up and hugged me once she found out I was the 17-year-old organizing this,” Rachel said.
Some teenagers may think that this issue doesn’t affect them, but as Rachel said, “Teenagers are the future. This is such a basic, fundamental right that we as teens need to stand up for now so it is still protected in the future.”
As the rally approaches, Rachel is nervous but glad she took advantage of the opportunity. She says she is very grateful for all the help from her family and friends, especially when she had to stop focusing on the rally to take care of normal teen responsibilities.
The Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally will be held at noon Saturday in front of the Federal Court Building in Niagara Square.

Kristina Macro is a senior at Holy Angels Academy.